IN BRIEF


Nevadans to get extended unemployment benefits

About 6,000 Nevadans, who previously exhausted unemployment benefits, will start getting payments again on Saturday, Gov. Jim Gibbons announced Thursday.

President Barack Obama signed federal legislation that extended unemployment benefits, and state computer programmers worked until 2 a.m. Thursday so payments could be sent to jobless workers by Saturday, Gibbons said.

Payments for the extension total $4 million and are retroactive to the week of Nov. 14. Visit www.expressclaim.org to claim an extension of unemployment benefits.

Gibbons said his administration was "ecstatic that we are going to be able to make this holiday even better for thousands of residents."

However, Republicans in Congress opposed the extension of jobless benefits as part of the stimulus package, said David Cherry, spokesman for Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

"In fact, Congressional Republicans actually stalled passage of this latest unemployment extension, and as a result, Nevadans saw their benefits expire," Cherry said.

TRUCKEE, Calif.

Ritz-Carlton opens resort near Northstar-at-Tahoe ski area

After more than three years of construction, Ritz-Carlton has opened a $300 million luxury resort on the edge of a ski area in the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe.

The 170-room Ritz-Carlton Highlands sits next to Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort south of Truckee at an elevation of 6,900 feet.

"This is a very, very important hotel for us in an important region," said Simon Cooper, president and chief operating officer of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., which owns 75 hotels nationwide.

Daily room rates start at $249. The resort's Web site said the 1,900-square-foot Presidential Suite can be had for $4,000 a night.

Harrah's Entertainment closing Bill's Lake Tahoe on Jan. 4

Harrah's Entertainment is permanently closing Bill's Lake Tahoe Casino on Jan. 4, the company confirmed Thursday.

The 22-year-old casino-only property is closing because of declining business, dating back to before the economic downturn, Harrah's spokesman John Packer said.

Bill's 11 employees will be offered jobs elsewhere in the company.

Harrah's Entertainment owns the 510-room Harrah's Lake Tahoe and the 740-room Harveys Lake Tahoe near Bill's, which operated 310 slot machines in a 18,000-square-foot casino and a small restaurant.

NEW YORK

AOL completes spinoff from Time Warner, resumes trading

AOL resumed life as an independent Internet company Thursday as it completed its spinoff from Time Warner Inc. and closed the book on one of the most disastrous business combinations in history.

Shares of AOL, which trade under ticker AOL on the New York Stock Exchange, fell 15 cents, or 0.63 percent, to close at $23.52.

Today's AOL is much different from the company once known as America Online, which got big in the 1990s by selling dial-up Internet access and then used $147 billion of its inflated stock to buy Time Warner. AOL, which is now worth about $2 billion, is trying to get most of its money from running advertisements on its portfolio of Web sites, such as the AOL.com home pages, Mapquest and tech blog Engadget.

WASHINGTON

Exports rise during October, helping to lower trade gap

The economic recovery is likely to draw strength from exports such as farm products, autos, aircraft and industrial machinery -- all of which helped lower the nation's trade deficit in October.

Exports of U.S. goods rose for a sixth straight month. Further gains in exports should bolster manufacturers, who struggled during the recession. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc., for instance, has predicted that its sales will rise next year, reflecting in part greater demand from China and other Asian markets.

The trade deficit fell to $32.9 billion in October, 7.6 percent below a revised September deficit of $35.7 billion, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The improvement reflected a 2.5 percent jump in exports. Imports rose a smaller 0.4 percent, a gain that was held back by a big drop in oil imports.

 

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